The Cleveland Browns hired Hue Jackson on Wednesday to be their coach, removing one of the 49ers’ top candidates from their list and creating a potential landing spot for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers and Browns interviewed Jackson, formerly the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator, on Sunday. Cleveland followed up with another session Tuesday. The Browns restructured their front office after the season and no longer have a general manager. They reportedly offered Jackson, 50, power over personnel – something the 49ers would have been unwilling to match – but the Browns said he will not have control over the 53-man roster.
Hue Jackson said his decision was based on the comfort level he had with Browns officials.
Jackson said his decision was based on the comfort level he had with Browns officials.
“I’m not worried abut who picks this player or that player,” he said. “All I want to do is win.”
Jackson had been scheduled to fly to New Jersey on Wednesday and interview with the Giants on Thursday.
The 49ers didn’t offer him their job and it became clear Tuesday that they had begun to look at other candidates. They also have met with Tom Coughlin, John DeFilippo, Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter and Anthony Lynn. They interviewed one-time 49ers offensive coordinator and long-time head coach Mike Shanahan during their last search, and he also is in the mix of candidates they are now considering. A league source said he expected the search to end Thursday or perhaps Friday.
With the Dolphins hiring Adam Gase last week and the Browns hiring Jackson, the 49ers are one of five teams seeking a head coach. The Buccaneers, Eagles, Giants and Titans are the others. The Giants reportedly were close to hiring their offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, and Tampa Bay reportedly was zeroing on its offensive coordinator, Koetter.
Jackson’s hiring makes the Browns a possible destination for Kaepernick. Jackson has been open about his fondness for the 49ers quarterback in the past, stating that when he was coach of the Raiders in 2011 the team strongly considered moving up from the second to the first round to draft Kaepernick. He has said he considered Kaepernick the best quarterback in that draft, one in which Cam Newton was selected with the No. 1 pick.
During his introductory news conference, Jackson was noncommittal when asked about quarterback Johnny Manziel, whose off-field escapades have reflected poorly on the Browns. The team’s other quarterbacks this season were Josh McCown and Austin Davis. Cleveland has the second pick in the draft, one it could use on a quarterback, perhaps Cal’s Jared Goff.
Colin Kaepernick will earn nearly $12 million if he is on the 49ers’ roster beyond April 1.
Kaepernick will earn nearly $12 million if he is on the 49ers’ roster beyond April 1. He has had three surgeries in the past two months, all at a private facility in Colorado. That signals his unhappiness with the team’s medical staff and perhaps a deeper mistrust of the organization. And after being benched in 2015, he may want a fresh start.
The 49ers consistently have said speculation that Kaepernick is finished in San Francisco is premature and the incoming coach will help determine the team’s quarterbacks. Kaepernick, who is rehabilitating in Colorado, said before his recent thumb and knee operations his focus is on getting healthy.
Kelly, who interviewed with the 49ers last week, also has expressed interest in Kaepernick in the past, according to a league source.